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Team Members: Miriam Marlier (University of California, Los Angeles), Claire Schollaert (University of Washington), Diane Garcia-Gonzales (University of California, Los Angeles), Michael Jerret (University of California, Los Angeles), Claire Schollaert (University of California, Los Angeles), Jilhoon Jung (University of North Carolina), Byron Ifediora (North Carolina State University)


Executive Summary: Wildland fires smoke impacts continue to increase air pollution in the United States (US) as fires grow more frequent and intense. Communities located in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) may be vulnerable to smoke exposures due to their proximity to fire sources, but there is limited research on health outcomes in these specific communities. To inform the Applied Sciences Program’s longer-term EEJ efforts and EEJ-oriented application activities, this projects is integrating Earth science information of smoke pollution with socioeconomic data to assess community vulnerability in the WUI. A user-friendly community health and vulnerability index (CHVI) will be produced for the WUI in California for sustained EEJ purposes and decision-making activities.

This work is built on the work of the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP, which has collaborated with stakeholders, University, and government partners to incorporate human health implications from wildland fires due to forest restoration planning in California specifically for environmental exposures to identify the issues faced by EEJ and underserved communities.

The study examines smoke pollution from wildland fires, which exposes millions of people across California by:

• Mapping a decadal distribution of exposures to climate-related hazards in California

• Assessing vulnerability characteristics and health implications due to environmental exposures

• Developing a vulnerability index specific to California to guide the gap analysis and comparative study for Environmental Justice and underserved communities

• Developing a gap analysis to characterize EEJ communities for key stakeholders

Together, this study will advance the integration of Earth science and socioeconomic data in a geospatial framework while also deepening our understanding of underserved communities facing disproportionate impacts in the WUI. While our focus is California, the analysis framework that we develop here is scalable to other locations across the US and the world that face the health consequences of Wildland fire hazards.